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Huddled masses….

September 5, 2015

burdens, assets, or just plain humanity…?

The US spirit of welcoming refugees, ala the Statue of Liberty, which was created in France and gifted to the United States 130 years ago, has not faded away or died as one might deduce from some of the political rhetoric. With no small amount of irony, that spirit may have simply been perverted by the transfer of charity-related responsibilities from the individual to the federal government in the name of fairness, kind of like a well-intentioned attempt to press the pucker out of a seersucker blazer.

As seems to be the normal process, our culture tends to take a good idea and beat it into its mirror image. The last half century has seen a surge in the removal of barriers to equity that had been embarrassingly visible for some time. Specifically, the unofficial onset of the Civil Rights Movement during the nineteen fifties awakened us to an improved awareness of the “Jim Crow” laws, and the culture of overt discrimination and abuse that had grown out of the Reconstruction period of the late nineteenth century that had never been removed, and that they needed to be. Around the same mid-twentieth century period, and each for reasons and histories of their own, other examples of inequity were recognized and became causes du jour, most visibly with the increasingly left-leaning parts of the Democratic Party.

It’s not that their counterparts, the Republicans, didn’t recognize, acknowledge, and see the need to change inequities and aspects of American life that were not in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution. It was Eisenhower, after all, a Republican president, who sent troops into Little Rock, Arkansas to restore order as school desegregation triggered riots.  Not to be out-done stealing liberal fire, the Reviled President, Republican  Richard Nixon, was a champion of environmental causes.  The Vietnam War, on the other hand, was  undeniably a debacle of the Democrats.

The polarization continued and deepened through the turn of the century, with Democrats becoming the exemplars of “ultra-liberal” causes and Republicans becoming associated with more “right-wing” emphasis. These “assignments” were essentially generated by, and welded to their respective designees, by the media, which has also largely been responsible for keeping these caricatures in force. Politicians learned long ago to play to the media, and over time, fiction and reality, have become somewhat blurred. This, of course, reflects a trend in society as a whole whereby “appearances” have become primary, almost to the point of rendering the reality irrelevant sometimes.

Thus, jumping ahead to the present, we find the divisions, both the real and the apparent, manifested in the conflicts around refugees and how the people believe they should be responded to. Right on cue, Donald Trump (not, the iconic right-wing, bible-thumping, conservative by the way) carries the standard for “right wing” chanters and deportation while Democrats universally, but with varying degrees of rabidity, champion assimilation.

This state of affairs puts the United States in an interesting position, considering current world events, with Europe responding with open arms to the Syrian refugees while our own headline-grabbers talk about either tossing “those people” out on their keisters by the tens of thousands, or compassionately conscripting them en masse to the ranks of the “entitled”, which may be a government jobs protection program as much as an act of charity.

It almost causes one to think on the 130th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty’s presentation to the United States that perhaps we should give it back….

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One comment

  1. As always, we should probably be somewhere in the middle. But our elected, or wanna-be elected officials spend so much time bending to the manipulations of the media, they have forgotten they’re jobs. And we the people have become so enamoured of being entertained, we are no longer paying attention. We want wardrobe malfunctions, bitch slaps, and “oh no she didn’t just say that” moments; we don’t reality anymore. We are as much to blame as any other group.

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